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Councils missing affordable homes targets

Developers and councils are failing to comply with affordable housing targets, a new report has revealed

The study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 60 per cent of the UK’s biggest housing developments currently in planning did not meet local affordable housing targets.

At least half of schemes in Bristol, Bradford, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield failed to meet their council’s targets for affordable housing.

The investigation assessed 82 of the biggest housing developments in ten major UK cities.

In London less than 17 per cent of the planned 15,000 units contained within the largest developments currently in the planning system will be affordable.  

Among the developments assessed was the Terry Farrell-masterplanned Earls Court scheme in London. Less than 10 per cent of the 6,700 homes within development were found to be affordable.    

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said: ‘With homelessness on the rise and millions of people languishing on housing waiting lists, we  must do more to increase the supply of affordable homes. This is not just a numbers game, but about creating mixed, vibrant communities and avoiding ghettoisation of rich and poor.’

Pete Robbins, Lambeth council cabinet member for housing and regeneration, says: ‘We are serious about delivering a high level of affordable housing in every new development that comes forward in Lambeth. But this is much harder now because of the viability tests that give developers a chance to avoid our affordable housing targets. We continue to work hard to maximise affordable housing levels, but the bottom line is that our hands are increasingly tied.’

Affordable housing targets are set by councils according to local supply and demand, alongside the costs of housing and wages.

The requirements are not legally binding, and if a developer can demonstrate that the target makes their particular development uneconomic, then the requirement can be reduced or even dropped.

The investigation comes after a number of London boroughs including Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Islington and Camden announced they were seeking a judicial review of changes to the London Plan which would see affordable rents for housing set at 80 per cent of the market rate.

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